Every sales person wants to get results, which of course means sales. That can mean selling to new customers, getting repeat orders, or upselling to existing customers.
As a sales person, a large part of your job is identifying leads and targeting companies that are a good fit and therefore likely to buy your company’s products or services.
In short, you need to look for promising sales opportunities, and guide those prospects to purchase. You’re always on the lookout for the most well qualified leads; that includes customers who are actively seeking a product like yours, and those who don’t know they need you yet, but who are a good fit.
The best way to keep track of your leads and make sure you guide them towards the sale is a sales pipeline.
What Is A Sales Pipeline?
A sales pipeline is a visual representation of all the opportunities you are currently working on. It lets you see at a glance where each prospect is in your sales process. That means you can see which opportunities will be ready to close in the short to medium term. If a particular product or service has a longer sales cycle, the sales pipeline might cover the longer term too.
When it comes to managing and tracking sales opportunities, a sales pipeline is one of the most useful tools in your toolbox. Use it well and it will help you land more sales and take home a bigger pay packet.
How A Sales Pipeline Ensures Efficiency
The reason a sales pipeline is so important is that it makes you as a sales person more efficient.
Using a sales pipeline helps you focus your efforts on the most well qualified leads. It gives you a way to visualize who is likely to bring you the most revenue. That means you can decide where to focus, and which actions to take next with each individual lead.
A sales pipeline also helps you keep track of your new leads and make sure you are moving those forward. New leads are vital to your career – repeat purchases and upselling matter too, but new leads are a must.
Other uses for your sales pipeline include:
- A guide you can use to expand into new territories
- A way of keeping all your work and information organized and in one place
- A tool for reporting to managers and colleagues
- A target-setting tool to help you figure out what to do and when to make sure your targets are met.
Your sales pipeline keeps you on track and makes sure you maximize your sales opportunities.
How To Grow Your Sales Pipeline
If you want to meet your targets, a sales pipeline is the ideal tool. The first step of course is growing your pipeline so it’s truly useful.
Start by listing all your current and potential leads. It’s important that you only enter qualified leads into your sales pipeline so you don’t waste time on those who are unlikely to convert. If you’re unsure whether a lead is properly qualified, double check before entering them into your pipeline. Put in a quick call and have a chat with them. Figure out if they have the need, budget and authority to purchase.
Once you have your leads, it’s time to prioritize them. Sort them by how likely they are to be profitable for you and then enter them into your timeline in a way that prioritizes the best opportunities.
Your pipeline will give you the overview you need to build a plan for both the medium and long term of your sales territory.
How To Manage Your Pipeline
Your pipeline needs regular attention to be truly efficient. Once you’ve got your pipeline set up, make sure you:
- Set up a weekly routine for calling new companies and contacts
- Set aside specific time for pursuing new leads, no matter how busy you are
- Make time for follow up calls to existing prospects – you need to keep a balance between working on existing and new leads.
- Always enter qualified leads into your pipeline to make sure you plan for them (it can help to leave tasks open on your CRM system that set out all the steps and actions you need to take for each new lead).
Make weekly management and updating of your pipeline a priority.
It’s also a good idea to have your pipeline to hand at all times – keep it open so you can refer to it regularly throughout your working day.
How To Make The Most Of Your Pipeline
One of the key tricks to making the most of your pipeline is to only put well qualified prospects into it. Don’t include opportunities that are unlikely to close.
Remember that you won’t be using your pipeline in isolation. Make the most of your pipeline by following these tips to make sure it integrates well with your CRM system:
- Keep your leads up to date in your company’s CRM system as well so everything is integrated.
- When using a CRM, always make sure that critical fields such as date of closing, probability to close and sales stage are kept up to date – this makes sure you always have access to the most up to date information.
- Some salespeople find it helpful to keep a copy of their pipeline in an excel spreadsheet for ease of access too – if you try this, you will need to remember to keep both your spreadsheet and your CRM up to date and in sync at all times.
- Use your CRM to clearly link relevant people and sales activity to each opportunity so it’s easy to keep track of everything that happens in your pipeline.
- Try to spend as little time as possible on administrative work. Make an effort to use your CRM to automate admin as much as possible so you can keep your focus on selling.
Last but not least, keep everything up to date at all times. This can’t be stressed enough.
As a sales person, your sales pipeline is one of the most valuable tools at your disposal. Use it to keep track of your qualified leads and set out a workable timeline for guiding each to closure.